As Congress demands dismantling of state governments where they were single largest party, its clear they still havent understood the rationale behind the doctrine

congress, single largest party

The Congress tried stitching up an unholy alliance with the JD(S) to prevent the BJP from taking power in Karnataka. The public mandate was visibly against the two parties with the BJP emerging as the single largest party in the state. Karnataka governor Vajubhai Vala, while exercising the discretion vested in him under the constitution, decided to call the BJP for staking its claim to form government in the state.

The discretion was exercised by Vajubhai Vala in accordance with the constitutional provisions and their interpretation given from time to time by the apex court. It is clear from the text of the landmark Supreme Court judgments given in the Bommai and Rameshwar Prasad cases that the governor has a choice of inviting the single largest party or a combination of parties. The governor of the concerned state is guided by the obligation of inviting such a party which can provide a stable and sustainable government. It was clear in the present scenario that the BJP was only a few seats short of majority, and had emerged as the most popular party in the state. Furthermore, former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had lost from one of his two constituencies while ten ministers had been voted out of their cabinets by the people of Karnataka. Therefore, Vajubhai Vala found it appropriate in accordance with the set precedents that the BJP, under Yeddyurappa‘s leadership in the state, should be invited to form the government.

However, the decision taken by the governor soon became the target of petty politics. The Congress and its allies are now hell-bent on deliberately misinterpreting the governor’s decision and the constitutional provisions in order to create a misunderstanding among ordinary citizens. In a juvenile move, the Congress has demanded that the popular government in three states where the Congress had emerged as the single largest party should be illegally dismantled. The Congress is now claiming that legitimate governments in Goa, Manipur and Meghalaya be replaced by the Congress. Similarly, RJD has sought to take down the JDU-BJP alliance in Bihar by vaguely applying the “single largest party” principle. According to news reports, Congress leaders are going to approach the concerned governors in order to make this bizarre demand. What the Congress and Tejaswi Prasad Yadav fail to understand is that the determining principle is the formation of a stable government and not mechanical application of a set principle. No straight jacket formula can be applied as far as governor’s prerogative powers under the constitution are concerned. The situation in the states where the RJD and the Congress are claiming to form government is not similar to that of Karnataka’s. Where the governor feels that the single largest party has no opportunity to form the government, he is free to look to the other options.

Most importantly, it is rather difficult to understand how the Congress is talking about dismantling functional governments. The governor invites the appropriate party or coalition after the conclusion of elections, and not when a government is in the middle of its term by forcibly removing a government without disproving its numbers. The governor is supposed to exercise his constitutional functions in such a manner so as to ensure that a stable government is put in place.  What Congress and RJD are demanding is totally opposed to the object and principles of stability and sustainability. The Congress and RJD are behaving like bad losers and in the process demanding something patently illegal and unconstitutional.

This step by the Congress amounts to mockery of the Constitution of India. These are signs of desperation and frustration among those engaging in vendetta politics and demanding that democratically elected governments be forcibly dismantled only in order to soothe the feelings of insecurity and inferiority. The Congress should be graceful in accepting that it has been rejected by the people of Karnataka and rise to the occasion instead of acting juvenile and making senseless demands. It seems that even though the Congress has acquired the expertise of losing elections from any stage, it is yet to learn humility and introspection which is critical to a party that invariably faces embarrassing electoral defeats one after another.

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Akshay Narang

Patriot, Political Analyst, Amateur Historian
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